The Archbishop versus the dissidents



James 3:1 Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. ..... 5Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

In Singapore, the GLBT related Yawning Bread blog has outed the Catholic Archbishop, the Most. Rev. Monsignor Nicholas Gerald Chia Yeck Joo showing him supporting a group of former ISA dissidents (Function 8). The Archbishop responded by castigating Yawning Bread and the  groups opposing the Internal Security Act.

The actions of the Church reminds me of the lectionary reading of the week from James 3, for the Archbishop was a powerful teacher, his words and statements having an authority of the church itself as truth. Hence, it was judged very strictly for it has the potential to spark a great forest fire. 

The initial letter of support to the dissident group by Archbishop Chia was rather careless for it was unsolicited, not marked private/confidential, and the Arcbishop was putting the entire church to support an issue which the church have had to retract in the 80s under Archbishop Gregory Yong.  It was a direct challenge to the past events.

When the Archbishop knew he had made a mistake which could harm the standing of the church, and retracted his initial letter, the matter should have been put to rest and the issue closed for it became a private matter. Yawning Bread was naughty to publish it in their web site, and the church actually made the matter worst by amplifying the entire event in the printed press rather than let it die quietly in the blog sphere.

The subsequent mud sliging between the church, and the various groups only drags out the skeletons of the past which many are trying to bury because everyone (other than some prisoners) were not clean.

Luke 23:23 He saw through their duplicity and said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?” “Caesar’s,” they replied.25 He said to them, “Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

The role of the Church has been defined by a very small minority as speaking out against injustice as a social justice gospel, by the mega churches as a cross over to the market place, and by the mainstream churches to proclaim the Gospel message of eternal salvation in Christ.

We often fail to articulate our desired roles biblically beyond our own definitions of what we want the church to be. The clergy advocating a social justice gospel should be building and articulating such theology better from a Christian perspective.

Jesus certainly did not play host to the Romans and the Pharisees, but the church in the 21st century is not Jesus. Two thousand years has gone by where the church once persecuted in the 1st century AD has become a cornerstone of the political, religious, power, and wealth structures. In Singapore the Churches have special rights with very large churches, religious authority, academic institutions, and tax free organizations.

The Archbishop has a strong inherent special interest for he is a king in the religious earthly mountain. He has already full special rights and privileges. Therefore, stepping on another mountain such as business or Government would clearly antagonise the incumbents and was duly advised to "keep out"! and not be too greedy.

Outcast groups have no rights whatsoever, and are like sojourners with nowhere to sleep. GLBT groups are not even legal. They have no rights to defend whereas the Church hierarchal has special rights to maintain. When the Archbishop withdrew his support for the dissident group, he was defending his privileged position which is not worth loosing for the few voices at the Speakers Corner protest.

It is important to give Caesar what belongs to Caesar in support of the separation of state and religion unless we want to end up like Rome where the church once ruled 2/3 of Europe. It was not about paying taxes but being in a system where the power behind this wealth becomes our god. The face of Caesar ended up becoming the head of the church, Pontius Maximus, the bridge between God and man.

It was money and power that will corrupt the church and Jesus was saying that we should give back to Caesar that which belongs to him (for it was the Romans who minted the money). Hence, we do not become bound by the Roman Kingdom and her demands and rule through the offerings of money. We should give the money back to the state lest by having the money in the church allows an in-road for Caesar to come in.

Satan offered power and wealth to Jesus. It is the same power and wealth offered to the church. Behind the Roman Empire is a strong demonic principality which came to influence the empire through the pagan worship by people of faith. When the Empire became Christianised in the 4th century AD, it was an unholy alliance. The church should have followed Jesus’ advice to return back Caesar’s money.

When we hold on money too long, we start counting the millions in Building funds or the 10% tithe the mega churches receive every week, the incredible power exist for corruption. At the very least, we will horde the money in the billions in the bank vaults and do whatever we could to maintain our power, control and religious authority.

The church has a tremendous self-interest to maintain its special rights and position of power, control, religious authority and influence, because it will otherwise loose the control of her wealth. It is the maintenance of power, control and religious authority – the kingdom of God on earth that has become the role of the church. The only remedy is to follow Jesus’ commandments, to give away the money – to the outcasts, the weak, the homeless, and the poor.

When our kingdom of God is on earth, we may not have any eternal kingdom in heaven.

The comparison between the churches’ withdrawal of support for the social justice dissidents to the Aware Saga is not insightful. In the Aware saga, it was almost the entire Anglican churches that were behind Church of Our Saviour along with the Mega churches and not just a small group of coup plotters. What got them unstuck was their determination to conquer all the mountains of power and control – all seven mountains including the government as clearly defined in their Transformation 2009 conference.

The latest flip flop will weaken the morality of the Church in Singapore.   The vaults of the churches are too heavy with gold and the maintenance of these special rights to keep on to power/religious control/authority to maintain this kingdom on earth rather than social justice.

Gays will not get their basic rights and justice from those who have even denied their own priests from getting married so that power, authority and wealth will stay within the church hierarchal. Gays have a profound possibility to unlock the hierarchal structure of the church which is a key to her maintenance of religious authority, control and power.

The day when Jesus comes back, you will still find them counting their golden coins all the way back to Caesar, and being worshiped by the people of faith on account of their religious authority and control. They will be left behind on earth being too heavy to be carried home by the angels back to heaven.

Sometimes our victory comes not by looking back to the past when injustice was done, but by surviving and continuing on and never giving up on the work that Christ has ordained for us.

For many Gay Christians, we suffered far worst with a lifetime in the closet with the keys thrown away by the Anglican and the Catholic Church with no justice or recognition as people of worth and dignity. We are cast into the lot as the greatest sinners by the church.

We have to come out,  to live and to survive and overcome we shall, for adversity has made us stronger and our faith in Jesus Christ sure.   At the end, we will find restorative justice for the healing of our souls. For it comes only from Jesus Christ when we see Him walking with us through the trials of fire.


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